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Sherrod Brown & Mike DeWine Rumble Again Over Debates

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is calling “outrageous” a decision by Attorney General Mike DeWine to not debate his opponent this fall.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is calling “outrageous” a decision by Attorney General Mike DeWine to not debate his opponent this fall.

"It's pretty outrageous when people run for public office and are unwilling to face the voters and their opponents and debate," Brown told 10TV.  "I've had races that were easy, it turns out, and I debated my opponents.  I debated Mike DeWine four times when he and I ran against each other for the senate."

Brown defeated DeWine in his bid for reelection in 2006.

DeWine announced last Friday that he would not debate his Democratic challenger David Pepper, but he insists voters will still be able to size up both candidates.

"We're going to have opportunities for the voters to hear us," DeWine said during a taping of 10TVs Capitol Square.  "We have a joint editorial board appearance with the Gannett papers.  They are going to record that and it will be up on the internet and anyone will be able to pull that down.  I am sure every issue will be threshed out between myself and my opponent.  We’ll have another one with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and my understanding is that will be recorded and the audio will be available."

Brown says an editorial board meeting is no match for the high-stakes atmosphere of a live television debate.

Candidates typically are tested under the bright lights of a studio, confronting each other - sometimes for the first and only time during a campaign - and fielding questions from journalists.

For many voters it is viewed as a basic test of whether a politician is ready for the stress of a high-profile public job.

"I think if you want to raise your right hand and get sworn into an office you have an obligation before you get there to stand in front of voters and to stand face-to-face with your opponent to make your case," said Brown.

DeWine is not alone in his decision not to debate.  Three other Republicans, Gov John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted and state Treasurer Josh Mandel, have all said they will not meet their opponents this fall.

"We had to look at this and see whether people are going to have the opportunity to see the two of us," said DeWine.  "We are going to head-to-head even if it's not labeled a debate."

With the exception of Mandel, the other Republican candidates have wide leads over their challengers in recent polls.

Brown says that fact is what has led the GOP to pull the plug on debates.

"I'm sorry that so many elected officials have developed this strategy this year for Republicans to refuse to debate," said Brown.  "I'm sorry but I think that's undermining the democratic process."